Iowa Notes: For Hawkeyes, It’s About The Right Players In Right Situations

By JOHN BOHNENKAMP

Ahron Ulis logged a season-high 27 minutes in Iowa’s 83-67 win over Seton Hall last Wednesday.

That, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery, is something that will be seen a lot this season.

Ulis was a perfect fit against Seton Hall’s pressure defense — he scored eight points and had two assists against one turnover.

He’ll be able to do more, McCaffery said on Sunday in previewing Monday’s game against Omaha at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I think he’s going to do exactly what you saw,” McCaffery said. “He’s versatile. He’s aggressive. We played an athletic team pressing 94 feet, and he handled it pretty well. He made terrific plays, great decisions. It’s just great to see him playing with that kind of confidence.”

But what was also seen out of the Hawkeyes on Wednesday is something that will be common this season — the right players in at the right times, but not necessarily the same group.

While Ulis was logging his minutes, freshman Dasonte Bowen played just three minutes, and fellow freshman Josh Dix played just 29 seconds. Centers Josh Ogundele and Riley Mulvey didn’t play at all.

Don’t read anything into that, McCaffery said.

“Both Bowen and Dix are going to play a lot,” McCaffery said. “They’ll be really good players for us for a very long time. It could happen in the next game, it could happen in the next week. But those guys are going to play a lot. I feel very confident in playing them.

“We went with the group we went with the other night to get a big road win. So I’m really pleased with the veteran guys in that environment. They performed really well when you think how we handled the ball.”

Of Ogundele and Mulvey, McCaffery said, “I think they’ve been good. I think they’re both really close at maxing out what they can do to help us. Those guys are going to be major factors in the course of this season.”

SCOUTING OMAHA: Omaha (1-3, 333 KenPom) has losses to Nebraska and Kansas to start the season. The Mavericks’ lone win was over Idaho, 79-72, at home.

Sophomore forward Frankie Fidler leads Omaha in scoring at 13.3 points per game.

“I’ve been impressed with Omaha,” McCaffery said. “Fidler’s really good, but they’ve added some pieces. They have a 10-man roster, all of whom can contribute, all of them can bring something different to the table. They’ve got some speed, some size.”

Fidler, at 6-foot-7, led the Mavericks in scoring and in 3-point shooting percentage last season.

“Fidler’s a handful because of his size,” McCaffery said. “He can play on the perimeter, he can play in the post. He’s had some really, really big games.”

SCOUTING DEMBELE: McCaffery added a fourth signee to the 2023 recruiting class last week when Ladji Dembele, a 6-9 forward from Newark, N.J., signed a letter of intent.

Dembele averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds last season at St. Benedict’s Prep. He was a 52 percent shooter overall, 36 percent in 3-point shooting.

“He’s versatile,” McCaffery said. “He can put it on the deck. He can shoot it from 3-point range. He’s got good feel. You can post him, you can run your offense through him. He can play in transition, bring it off the glass or fill the lane. I think he can be a good motion player.”

Dembele visited the Iowa campus earlier in the fall.

“I was really impressed with Ladji on a number of different levels, starting with his game,” McCaffery said. “He brings to the table what we were trying to accomplish with that last scholarship, in terms of size and position. We were looking for a frontcourt guy who had some versatility. I like the fact that he’s big and strong and athletic, but he can also step out and shoot threes.

“He’s really a spectacular person. I mean, a great fit here. When he came out to visit, he fell in love with it. Really liked our guys. We’re excited about him. He’s a great fit, and part of a really good class.”

Photo: Iowa guard Ahron Ulis looks for an open teammate in last Wednesday’s win at Seton Hall. (Andrew Mordzynski/Icon Sportswire)

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